Innocents caught up in the crossfire

The crime scene outside Newclare Magistrate Court. Photo credit: Mosimaneotsile Seetelo.

Westbury has garnered a reputation for itself in which shooting deaths have become a regular occurrence. This notoriety was reinforced when a man on his way to the Newlands Magistrate Court was gunned down.

The victim was embroiled in a court case which involved the pointing of a firearm and the men who opened fire on him were waiting outside the court when he was hit on August 24.

He sustained gunshot wounds to his hip and foot and Sophiatown police have stepped up their visibility during court proceedings.

Sophiatown police spokesperson, Jerbes de Bruyn said, “The victim was going to testify in a case of pointing of a firearm. The suspects were not in court they were outside opposite the street. Police chased the suspects on foot and managed to arrest one.”

Casualties in gun-related incidents are mounting and the latest victim was a 36-year-old man was shot and killed on Reuben Avenue in Newclare on September 4.

His distraught cousin said, “It’s not like we’re the first family that is suffering because of this violence, shootings, and drugs.

“It’s just painful to the family. Where do we start? I mean people saw who did this. I think that’s the problem overall in the community, people are afraid, if they say it’s a certain person then their lives are in danger and even if they relocate, what about their families?”

Residents who fear retribution are too afraid to report crimes to local police for fear of becoming the next victim while the perpetrators lord it over their fearful neighbours.

These incidents bring to four the number of people shot in recent weeks and the community is living in fear. Such is the stranglehold the grip of violence, drug addiction, drug peddlers, and gangsters have that many fear the scales of justice are not balanced enough to protect them.

Bullets whizz by and lives are lost with no end in sight and community leaders have come out strongly to condemn the senseless slaughter of residents in a community verging on total collapse.

Former ward councillor and community activist, Shahiem Ismail denounced the shootings and said, “Whether it’s gang-related or not, people are dying and that’s the bottom line of it.

“I’ve been involved for the past eighteen months, we lost a lot of youngsters from last year December. I’m always trying to bring peace and healing to the community.”

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Janice Beckett

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